This is article was written for and published in the local newspaper.
Lost coins and baby clothes
Jesus once told a parable about how a woman lost one coin out of ten and went searching with a broom and lantern until she found it. Once found she called her friends rejoicing over its recovery. Jesus said “…likewise… there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents,” Luke 15:10. We lose things in different ways. They can be stolen, misplaced, overlooked or we can just be unaware something belongs to us. Many people know what’s in their bank account watching over it with an eagle eye but are unaware of what belongs to them spiritually.
Every year it never fails, after we put our Christmas decorations away, we find something we overlooked, usually grumbling I drag the ladder and boxes back out to put it away. Things get lost in plain sight. Now that it’s the New Year I’ve still been thinking about Christmas. It seems so chaotic to me. So many things pull on us and demand our time and attention. It takes a lot of effort to really stay focused spiritually. If we are not careful, we can dwell more on the material and social parts and neglect the spiritual. We can do things like put out a manger scene to make us feel better because we see the whole story in one glance and it eases our conscience.
I have special memories of our manger scene because of how one of our grandchildren used to make sure everything in it was arranged in order. Nothing could be out of place. Baby Jesus, with Mary and Joseph kneeling close by. The shepherds tallest to the shortest, the wisemen and animals likewise. For fun I would scatter them without saying a word only to find them back in order at the end of their visit. It was fun to watch. The truth is though if all she knew about the birth of Christ was revealed by that scene, she would misunderstand a big part of the story.
Many people don’t want to ignore the things of God, it is just easier to have it all packaged in a way that they think they don’t need to open the dusty pages of the Bible. The problem is the wisemen weren’t even at the manger. They probably never even met the shepherds, unless it was out on the rolling hills somewhere after many months had passed. The wisemen found the Child (not newborn) Jesus at a house shortly after visiting the jealous king Herod. He wanted them to come back and report the Baby’s location intending to kill Him and probably to take His treasures, but God sent the wisemen away in a different direction. Herod enraged was forced to send out his death squad to kill all baby boys 2 years old and under if he was going to eliminate this threat to his throne. The wisemen weren’t at the manger, God had a different purpose for them.
Without searching deeper, we can lose the valuable truth of the wisemen’s gifts. They weren’t to teach us about giving gifts on Christmas, but to provide support for Jesus’ family and finance their escape from Herod to Egypt. It was a way of saying God knows how to take care of His own in ways we don’t comprehend. Another truth is the shepherds found the Baby wrapped in swaddling, part of the Davidic covenant of salt (See 2 Chronicles 13:5) which promised that a descendant of David would someday become Priest and King forever. The angels visit and the Messiah in swaddling, was a sign that was happening, no wonder the shepherds were rejoicing! Lord, help us not miss the valuable truths hidden in Your Word!